have a bigger goal now. It's obvious: We're trying to get to Tampa. And we've got enough to do it."
-- Miami Dolphins DT Jason Ferguson
has been a long road.
years. Seven long years.
head coaches plus an interim one. Three general managers.
different offensive coordinators, five new systems, five different opening day
39-57 (.406) record from 2002-2007, including 4-12, 6-10, and 1-15 disasters.
the wandering is over. The Miami Dolphins are back. Back in the playoffs. Back
to their rightful place among the league's best.
where they belong.
is the emphatic statement we can make today after Miami's thrilling 24-17 win over the New York
Jets in the Meadowlands, earning them the 2008 AFC East Championship and
sending the Jets and New England Patriots home for the postseason.
just like the good old days, when the Dolphins regularly used their divisional
foes as stepping stones to postseason glories. As Yogi Berra once said, "It's
deja vu all over again!"
unprecedented turnaround, from the ashes of 1-15 to a surprising 11-5, will go
down as the greatest in NFL history. That's almost 90 years of history,
people; another triumph to be added to the many achievements of this storied
the Dolphins will have time to reflect on this accomplishment. But not now, not
with more work to be done, and more games to be won. Quite frankly, no one
cares about 11-5 anymore. For today, everyone's counter has been reset to 0-0.
The Dolphins are back at the big boy table again.
this week really, the singular focus the Dolphins will have is defeating the
Baltimore Ravens. Yet the salient question that is now pressing, justifiably
so, is "Just how far can this team go?"
most media folks really, will sniff and say this Sunday will be the end of the
road, employing stats and other paper-based rationale, together with their
unending love of Ray Lewis, to support their arguments for a limited postseason
believe that the sky is the limit, for every once in a while in Sports, magic
gets caught in a bottle; stars align, things that defy logic happen, and
circumstances favor a certain destiny.
folks will agree that hard work and solid execution on many fronts tends to be
conducive to good luck. But one must also have the talent to take advantage of
the opportunities good fortune presents. The Dolphins have proven they have
nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. It was the late Dan Marino, Sr. who said
"You only deserve what you earn".
question, the Dolphins are legitimate contenders. They wouldn't be AFC East
champs if they weren't. They are tough, smart, and disciplined. They are still
getting better, especially at wide receiver and on special teams. They have
great leadership. They play good defense, the king of championships. And they
have a very good quarterback.
of these things are key ingredients to winning a championship.
yes, count me in the group of people who believe the Dolphins are good enough
to defeat the Ravens this Sunday at Dolphin Stadium (1pm ET, CBS).
the Ravens won the earlier contest 27-13. That's fine. Just remember that
nothing that the Ravens did in that game will help them to win this one.
the Dolphins to have plenty of counters in the offense, both with the Base and
Wildcat schemes, to answer most anything that Ravens' defensive coordinator Rex
Ryan will think up.
thy name is Dan Henning.
expect the Dolphins to have a plan to try and rattle rookie QB Joe Flacco and
stymie the gameplan that ex-Dolphin coach Cam Cameron will draw up. Cameron had
an advantage the last time in that he knew many of Miami's defensive players; their tendencies,
strengths, and weaknesses. Will that advantage matter as much this time? Did
Cameron over tip his hand in the previous meeting?
shall soon see. Do keep in mind that Dolphin starting DT Jason Ferguson will
play in this game; he was injured in their previous meeting.
keep in mind that the Ravens will be facing a much more hostile and frenzied
crowd than they did this past October. Back then, the Dolphins were still in
"prove it" mode. Dolphin Stadium was a third empty for that game, and a good
number of those in attendance were Ravens fans.
atmosphere will be totally different this time; the packed house will be an
advantage for the Dolphins in this one. The 49ers, the first opponent to fully
feel that hostile energy this season, learned all about it. It's another sign
that the Dolphins are indeed back.
faithful readers of this column have come to know, I am not big on making
predictions; especially in a season that has already defied all logic. What I
do know is that the players are feeling it right now, and a big playoff win
over a tough Ravens team could propel this team to even greater heights.
the sky could indeed be the limit.